A good article on the possible reasons behind change, and what everyone should be aware of:
Where were you between 1983 and 1987? In these five years, a good number of North Korean officials, teachers and top students were already in Norway, Denmark and France, thanks to a UNESCO-coordinated project aimed at improving foreign languages and scientific learning in the DPRK. They were enjoying the privileges of studying abroad, and acquiring skills which they could then transfer back to North Korea. They were, in other words, undertaking programmes we might recognise as educational exchanges (even if there weren’t any western scholars doing the same in the DPRK at the time).
This might come as a surprise to many people. If the DPRK was ‘opening her doors to the world’ as early as in the 1980s, we either missed this crucial event, or in reality North Korea was – year in year out – finding new ways to ‘squeeze’ resources from enemies, allies and neutral states alike. Where does the truth stand?
But, at the same time, we appear to have been deceived by surface changes – this is what North Korea’s sudden modernisation is hiding, cosmetic adjustments without any real socio-economic development or crucial reform. The North Korean leadership, according to this view, did a fantastic job in letting us foster the hope that things were, albeit slowly, going in a different direction.
And here’s an article on experts who think that change won’t happen:
Notes the increases in Chinese investment, not just on the national level, but on the local level as well.
Chinese investment will hopefully bring new economic prosperity to the people. In the end though, those who will most benefit from foreign investment, and a North Korea with a better economy: The upper class. In case re-unification happens, Mr. Andrei Lankov has talked about the fears of elites over reunification, and how it would effect their status as being the cream of the crop of Korean society. Ultimately, he proposes that they would still be better off than the average North Korean would. However, in the following article, Mok, Yong-Jae proposes to let the Northern elites to realize they have nothing to fear, and to leverage that as a push for reunification:
Somehow, I don’t think the incentives for Northern elites to do so are present.